Bethesda Lutheran Church

Pastor Lauren Holm

The Reverend Lauren Holm grew up in Fairfield Connecticut. Since she was a child she felt a strong call to be a pastor but women were not ordained in the Lutheran Church at that time. She chose nursing as her form of ministry and specialized in cancer nursing. She completed her bachelor of science in nursing at Boston University and her master of science in nursing at Boston College. Lauren worked as an oncology nurse in Boston and then as a director of oncology nursing in Detroit, Michigan. She was a senior vice president at the American Cancer Society in Massachusetts for 23 years and worked for eight years at the Mass General Hospital in Boston.

In 2004 she was repeatedly urged by several people who had no connection with each other to consider ordained ministry. She began her studies at Boston University School of Theology while she continued to work full-time. She completed her Lutheran studies commuting each week to the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. She received her Master of Divinity degree in 2008, and completed her internship serving as vicar at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church North Quincy and Faith Lutheran Church in Quincy Massachusetts in 2009.

Pastor Lauren was ordained on September 20, 2009. She was called to serve as pastor for Bethesda Lutheran Church and East Church Congregational and she has dual standing in the ELCA and UCC. She and her husband Jay Cleaveland live in Springfield. They have two grown children, Sarah and Joshua who live in the greater Boston area.

About Bethesda Lutheran Church

Bethesda Evangelical Lutheran Church is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). There are 10,300 congregations in the ELCA.

The ELCA is grouped into 65 Synods. Bethesda is part of the New England Synod.
There are 184 congregations in the New England Synod.

Over the years, different Lutheran church bodies have been established and organized to meet the needs of Lutherans in communities and nations all over the world. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is the largest Lutheran group in North America, founded in 1988 when three North American Lutheran church bodies united: The American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches and the Lutheran Church in America.

What Do Lutherans Believe?
Lutherans are Christians. Our faith is founded on the good news of Jesus Christ.
Grace alone, Faith alone, Scripture alone comprise the very essence of Lutheranism:
• We are saved by the grace of God alone -- not by anything we do;
• Our salvation is through faith alone -- a confident trust in God, who in Christ promises us forgiveness, life and salvation; and
• The Bible is the norm for faith and life -- the true standard by which teachings and doctrines are to be judged.
• The two sacraments, Holy Baptism and Holy Communion are called the means of grace. We believe that Jesus Christ is present in these means through the power of the Holy Spirit. Worship is also described as gathering around the means of grace. This is a way of saying that we trust that God is genuinely present with us in baptism, in preaching, and in sharing the bread and wine of Holy Communion.

Lutheran Worship

How We Worship:
Worship is central for Lutherans. Worship is an encounter with God, who saves us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Styles of music and liturgy vary between congregations but they contain the same elements. There are four movements to worship: The Holy Spirit gathers us together as the people of God; God speaks to us in scripture, preaching and song; God feeds us with the presence of Jesus Christ; and God blesses us and sends us into the world to serve.

Lutherans love to sing so the major portions of our worship service are set to music. Our worship is supported by piano, base and drums and several members who lead the congregation in song.

Lutherans use the Revised Common Lectionary, a three-year cycle of scripture readings. For each Sunday and festival, four readings are suggested and include: a Gospel reading, an Old Testament reading, a reading from the Psalms, and a New Testament reading. Each year of the RCL centers on one of the synoptic Gospels (Year A – Matthew, Year B – Mark, Year C – Luke). John is read in each year in the major seasons of Christmas, Lent, and Easter. The pastor and several laypersons lead worship. Holy Communion is celebrated weekly; all are welcome to the Table of the Lord. The cross is the central symbol in our worship space. We are blessed to have a member who helps amplify the scripture passages in each season using her artistic gifts. Click here to view past artwork.

Our Space:
The worship space is bright and welcoming. Flags of nations flank the worship space proclaiming that all are welcome. Children and families are welcome; you will find rocking chairs behind the last row of pews so a restless child can be quieted rather than removed. Bags of quiet toys are also provided for use by young children during worship. Sometimes a child will need a break during part of the worship service and a wonderful nursery is provided with speakers so that adults can hear the service. A wheelchair lift is located at the entrance to bring those who cannot climb stairs into the worship space.

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Our History

Lutheran history
Lutherans trace their history to Martin Luther (1483 – 1546), who taught theology at Wittenberg University in Germany. He realized that there were significant differences between what he read in the Bible and the practices of the Roman Catholic Church at that time. On October 31, 1517, he posted a challenge on the door of Wittenberg University, titled “95 Theses” an invitation to debate 95 theological issues. His hope was that the church would reform its practice and preaching to be more consistent with the Word of God as contained in the Bible.

What started as an academic debate escalated into a distinct separation between the Roman Catholic Church of the time and those who accepted Luther’s suggested reforms. Although Martin did not intend to break from the church and certainly not start a church named after him, the group that agreed with Luther’s convictions was called “Lutherans”. Nearly five centuries later, Lutherans still hold to the basic principles of Luther’s theological teachings.

History of Bethesda
. On May 28th, 1891 Bethesda Lutheran church was organized with 34 charter members.
. In June 1896 a lot was purchased on Union Street.
. In 1897 a basement church was erected.
.On May 10, 1906 property on King Street was purchased containing the church building, a parish hall and a parsonage.
. In 1948 the King Street church was sold to the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts.
. In April 1948 five lots comprising nearly two acres were purchased on Island Pond Road.
. The present church building was dedicated in June 1950                                                                                    .In 1959 work began on the parish building  which was dedicated in April 1960.

Ecumenical Partners
Lutherans are part of a reforming movement within the whole Christian church; as a part of practicing their faith, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and its predecessors have engaged in ecumenical dialogue with other church bodies for decades. In fact, the ELCA has entered into cooperative "full communion" agreements (sharing common convictions about theology, mission and worship) with several other Protestant denominations, including:
• the Moravian Church
• The Episcopal Church
• the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
• the Reformed Church in America
• the United Church of Christ
• the United Methodist Church
The ELCA has an ongoing dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, and in 1999, representatives of the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church signed the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. This represented a historic consensus on key issues of faith and called for further dialogue and study together.

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Bethesda Lutheran Church      East Church, Congregational      Address: 455 Island Pond Rd.  Springfield, MA 01118      Ph: 413-733-4494      Email: